N. Wilson Holland’s father and uncle were World War II veterans. Their stories planted the seed for the respect he has from veterans today. Now a physician specializing in geriatric medicine, he has been on staff at Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur since 1985 and treats elderly veterans in the Bronze geriatric clinic.
At the clinic, Holland provides medical care for many of the more than 5,000 patients 75 years old and older who are cared for at the Hospital Medical Center. Some, he said, are more than 100 years old.
“I believe the veterans we serve deserve the absolute best care. I try to treat each veteran as if they were family. I urge every person involved in their care from trainees to fellow practitioners to treat each patient as well or better than they would treat a family member,” Holland said.
Holland’s commitment to treat patients as family doesn’t stop with their interaction in the clinic. Each patient has his cell phone number so that they can reach him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He gets to know their family members, attends their birthday parties and sometimes their funerals.
Staff at the VA Hospital have been so impressed with the work he is doing that someone there nominated Holland for one of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ most prestigious awards, the Mark Wolcott award for clinical excellence. The geriatrician received the award—a plaque and a $5,000 check—at a presentation last month in Arlington, Va.
The award, established in 1996, is named for Dr. Mark Wolcott, who during more than 40 years of practicing medicine was known for hands-on direct patient care. He dedicated his career to improving the quality of health care for patients receiving medical treatment at facilities operated by the Veterans Administration.
Each year the award is presented to someone who demonstrates the level of excellence that Wolcott was known for. The committee that selects the winner looks for a person who is a positive role model to his colleagues, who has improved heath care for veterans, who works well with other health providers on his team and who is well thought of by patients.
VA Medical Center Director James Clark stated in a news release, “Dr. Holland’s exceptional vision, commitment, and dedication has significantly enhanced the quality of care to our veterans.”
“I’m not sure how the committee members gather information, but it’s a process that starts in January and continues through September,” said Holland, who was Emory’s first geriatric fellow and now serves as its Geriatric Fellowship Program director.
Holland said he wasn’t aware of the award before he was nominated for it. The level of care that he gives his patients is simply what he feels he’s supposed to do. “It’s my mission—my small way of giving back to those who have done so much and sacrificed so much for all of us. They deserve all the respect and dignity we can give them. They deserve the highest quality of heath care possible.”